Scientists observed more than 600 married or cohabiting couples and found that individuals were more likely to achieve deep or “restorative” sleep when they were paid more attention by their partners.
They noted that this type of sleep is fundamental to having good physical health and psychological wellbeing, but we’re unable to experience it when we feel threatened.
According to the research, published in the journal ‘Social Personality and Psychological Science’, one of the most important functions of sleep is to protect us against deteriorations in health.
However, this protective function of sleep can only be realised when we have high quality uninterrupted sleep, known as restorative sleep.
Restorative sleep requires feelings of safety, security, protection and absence of threats, such as arguments or tension.
For humans, the strongest source of feelings of safety and security is responsive social partners — whether parents in childhood or romantic partners in adulthood.
“Our findings show that individuals with responsive partners experience lower anxiety and arousal, which in turn improves their sleep quality,” lead author Dr Emre Selçuk, a developmental and social psychologist at Middle East Technical University in Turkey commented.
“Having responsive partners who would be available to protect and comfort us should things go wrong is the most effective way for us humans to reduce anxiety, tension and arousal.”
So next time you have a heated debate before bed, talk it out, for everyone’s sake.